Support For Christi Thomas

This blog is to help offer support to the Thomas Family and their daughter, Christi, in her battle against cancer. Please visit Christi's website at to learn more. There, you'll find journals, photos and a lots of other information about this amazing child and her family.

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Another Touching Student Poem

Dear Mrs. Thomas,

When I heard about Christi I was so shocked I couldn't think about anything else. I had a free period that day and I wrote this poem. I never thought of a name for it. Maybe you can. I hope it can show you that others feel the loss and your feelings are shared by all. Hopefully, it can express some of your pain as well.

Your Faithful Student,

Be still my child and slumber,
Awaken nevermore
You may have lost your battle
But we all know you won your war.

You’re in God’ s hands now
Calm and joy upon your face,
Down here on earth we’ll think of you
And marvel at your grace.

You fought this battle long and hard
Until the bitter end
It took its toll on you each day,
God’s creatures now you tend.

You watch us now from up above
And keep us in your sight
You hold a bond with all of us
And help us do what’s right.

You lived each day in happiness
A smile upon your face
You left us far too soon young one,
And left memories in your place.

Now in heaven God will tell you
What you ought to be
Maybe you’ll be a guardian angel
Maybe just for me.

Written by J. S.

A Year Ago: Kay & Christi after painting ceramics at Kaylyn's Grandma's pottery shop. Christi had a wonderful day with Kaylyn and painted "Buckeye" on a bowl. Buckeye continues to drink from that bowl daily, despite the presence of her former own and bowl maker. One day during the summer Christi told me that her biggest fear was Buttercup dying because she is so old. (Buttercup turned four in July.) I wonder if Christi was just as worried about her own possible death. It's one of the things I can no longer ask and I will never know.

I've heard from a couple of moms of Christi's friends in recent days and learned that their daughters have been to see the movie "Bridge to Terabithia" and it's been very sad, but good for conversation. While it's been many years since I read Katherine Paterson's book, I just started re-reading it last week. I must stop reading it now as it's no longer enjoyable, but perhaps one day I will be ready to continue reading. A humorous "grief" book that I'm currently in the midst of is "Good Grief". Unlike the many self-help / cope books I've been reading since September, this one is a novel and I'm actually laughing as I apply it to my own situation. If anyone is in my shoes and interested, the author is Lolly Winston.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"Christi" by Courtney (SE High School Student)

Not only was I deeply touched when this amazing former language arts student of mine (now in high school) came to the funeral home by herself, but I later learned that she had donated her hair to "Locks of Love". Soon after Christi died, I received this wonderful poem she wrote about Christi. Writing helps me cope and I'm so glad Courtney can use writing to help her too! We love this very special poem! Thank you, dear Courtney!

PHOTO: A frightening Christi. Mid-September 2002, age 5, days after being diagnosed with what ultimately her death sentence

Written by Courtney M.

I never was quite able to understand
Why horrible things happened and under who’s demand

Then all of the sudden, out of the clear blue
I formed in my mind the story of you

I think of all the things you’ve gone through
The things you’ve seen and had to do

I think of how strong you are
And how for children around the world, you raised the bar

You held your chin up high and did what you had to do
You pushed from the depths of your precious heart to make it through

To be quite honest and tell the truth
I don’t know many people who hung on like you

It all started when you were so young
It took us all by surprise, with a feeling that stung

The question of “why?” rung through the air
Why her? Why so young? This questions some could not bare

People needed an answer they needed it now
There was so much confusion but not many said it out loud

But deep down inside, especially you
Must have known exactly why and what you were set out to do

Some still don’t understand why this happened to you
And why it tugged at the hearts of everyone who knew

And for me it took a while too
Then I figured it out the purpose of the story of you

I realized Christi why you were put here on earth
So people could witness, witness a birth

Not the birth of a great god or a president to be
But merely the birth of an angel growing her wings

The wings that will fly you to heaven above
Where there is no fear or sorrow but is filled with your love.

(Just Weeks Before Diagnosis: Christi's "Art Show" at the end of "Art Camp" at the YMCA, Summer 2002, Age 5. She doesn't even look ill, does she? We had NO idea what would soon happen.)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Thanks, Webby!

Thanks, Eric & Alicia! After spending a fabulous weekend with you, we safely arrived home and we will look forward to our next visit together.
They even fixed Shayla's new little bike up so she could do "spinavals" with daddy & Eric in their workout room. She worked out with them and tried her best to keep up; it was precious! After Shayne "scolded" Eric for buying Shayla such an incredible TREK bicycle, Eric responded, "I just wish I could have bought two." We certainly missed Christi on this trip. Seemed like it was yesterday when both of the girls played in that big bathtub! This time, Shayla had a doggie to splash with!
Bath Time!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Shayluary Continues....

Last night we met up with the Cooks at the store “Team Active” in Battle Creek, Michigan. It is an amazing bike store! Their kind support last year allowed Eric to develop “Pedaling with a Purpose” which is where thanks to many generous and compassionate donors, he raised $12,000 for the Children’s Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation. When I try to make sense of why Christi had to endure all she did – ultimately giving her life, I can only try to find some comfort in the good things that came about as a result of her journey. As a result of Eric’s insight and compassion, “Pedaling with a Purpose” was formed and it continues today with MANY wonderful organizing and charitable groups benefiting!

At the store last night, Mr. & Mrs. Cook did something entirely too generous. They bought Shayla a TREK bicycle and we are still shaking our heads at them. (Of course Eric’s only laughing at Shayne, “Just because her bike is nicer than yours!”) Shayla was ready to move up to a bike with 24 inch tires, but she had been afraid of them. After working with Eric, not only did she learn how to handle the bigger bike, but she was also able to understand how to use the hand-breaks (new to her) and a few other interesting things. The Cooks certainly spoiled Shayla.

They also took her to meet the owner and President of TREK Bicycle Company (Dick Burke) who was at the store last night for the their 14th annual End of Winter party! Amazing!

During our time at the store, I kept reflecting back to August – not so long ago, when Christi & Shayla were both able to ride the bikes around their amazing “test track”. I still can’t fathom how quickly she passed. It seems like she was JUST HERE and now I keep looking around for her. This week we didn’t have school on Wednesday due to the black ice and fog so I worked for hours organizing some of my treasured Christi’s possessions into the hope chest at the foot of our bed. I figured her things would be better kept in plastic tubs in the basement; however, I wanted it close by – just in case I wanted to get out some of her art work, or sweet funeral cards that were sent, etc. With many tears, I worked on the organization project. I just kept wiping the tears away thinking so this is all that’s left of her wonderful nine years of life? This is it? I know we have wonderful memories and photos, but it seems like such an amazing persons should encompass more than the contents of a hope chest.

Cemetery Funny:
While building the snowman at the cemetery, Shayla tossed a snowball at Shayla. Shayla turned around and Shayne said, “Christi, do that again and you’re grounded.” Well, he threw snow at Shayla and again and when she turned around Shayne replied, “That’s it, Christi. You’re grounded!” Shayla thought it was very funny!

Ash Wednesday Funny: Since we didn’t have school due to inclement weather, Shayla and I joined Shayne at St. Mary’s. It was the first time we had been back to that church since Christi’s funeral. I knew it’d be hard and thankfully, we sat in the very last pew. After getting our ashes Shayla and I took off for Toledo for her vision therapy and on our way home Shayne was working late so I asked her if she wanted to stop at Pizza Hut to try the new cheesy bites pizza we’ve seen advertised on TV. At the counter to place our order six young men were standing around. One said, “You have dirt or something on your forehead.” Another one added, “Looks like just a smudge of something.” I knew exactly what they were talking about, but I wanted to have some fun. I said to Shayla, “Shayla, I don’t think these boys were in church today or they’d know today is Ash Wednesday.” She picked up her bangs and told them, “See, I have ashes too.” We definitely had our fun as the embarrassed young men slowly slipped away.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Ritz Theater Christi Thomas Scholarship

The Ritz Theater has established a yearly "Christi Thomas Memorial Scholarship" to sponsor a needy child to attend the annual Ritz Theater Summer Camp which Christi attended for three glorious summers and loved so much. Our thanks to the wonderful Ritz Theater!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

$5 1/2 Million Raised at Penn State's THON

Note "In Loving Memory of Christi Thomas, Forever Nine" and the picture of Christi & Buckeye sitting at our kitchen table. The back of the shirts said "Your life will be judged not by its length but by your strength ~Shayne Thomas, Christi's dad"

This weekend at Penn State THON raised an incredible $5 1/2 million dollars for cancer research! That is an entire $1 million more than last year. It sounds like it was quite a remarkable weekend, despite the crazy winter weather. Our deepest Thomas team Thanks to sweet Michele and her friends for their love and support. Christi always enjoyed each visit from Michele and her sweet mother, Sylvia A cure for ALL cancers MUST be found. Life is too precious not to be extended! Work is to be done!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Snowman in the Cemetery

I'm still not certain what is going on with the pictures (or lack of pictures I should say!). We'll be with "Webby" this weekend and hopefully he can figure it out.
While I was teaching last night, Shayne took Shayla out for snowboarding at the park and snowman building at the cememtery! I'm certain Christi is looking down loving her snowman built at her grave! Shayla said, "Some many not think this is being respectful, but Christi would love this!"
Shayne and Shayla took off for the cemetery after school yesterday. They made Christi this awesome snowman.

CEMETERY FUNNY: We were thankful when Christi died that my parents had purchased four plots out at the cemetery. It just made everything easier and gave me comfort in knowing that Christi was "with" my father and one day Grandma Nonee will join them too. After the funeral, Shayne learned that the plots directly above Christi were available and we knew we wanted to buy them. We weren't certain what finances looked like at that time and if we were going to land upside down or what so we waited.....and waited. (I mean who wants to run right out and buy burial plots with our family, right?? Certainly they'd be available for a long, long time.)

Finally, after putting it off for months and months, Shayne called to inquire with the intent to purchase last week. The response on the phone nearly took his breath away. "Shayne, I'm sorry. Christi isn't buried here. I think she's at Seneca Memory Gardens." Ooops! Shayne called the wrong cemetery!! Feeling very embarassed, he called the right one and drove out and purchased the other plots. I know it sounds crazy, but that gives me comfort knowing we have them and loved ones won't have to make that decision.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Five Months Ago

Five months today, hmmmm, I just keep waiting for the morning when the fact that Christi’s dead won’t be THE FIRST thing I think of. We continue to keep busy which I think helps us cope; however, often it doesn’t seem like anything is getting any better. The memories are still raw and painful and I long to just hear her incredible giggle and see that beautiful smile she somehow always gave no matter how much pain she was in!

Christi & Buckeye - Feb. 20, 2006 (Buckeye now sleeps with Shayla every night, or I guess I should say ON Shayla. Shayla takes very good care of Christi's cats!)

Shayla and I are very glad to be heading back to school this morning since we only attended on Monday last week. This weekend we enjoyed getting together with Harriet and we also went skiing – cross country skiing (which was incredibly inexpensive at only $7.00 per person for all equipment and lovely trails) with some sweet friends. One of Christi’s best friends showed Shayla how to cross-country ski. Christi didn’t like cold weather and I don’t think she would have enjoyed skiing so that helped. And Sarah was wonderful with Shayla!

Yesterday we (OK, Shayne and Shayla I got a lot of school work completed sitting in the lodge) went downhill skiing. We are amazed at Shayla’s ability to catch on so quickly! She’s no longer on the bunny hill and has now graduated to the beginner’s hill! She is mastering it by storm!

They're Off!
The Thomas Two!
With daddy hot on her tail, there she goes!!

The Girl Scout cookie truck arrived, after being stuck in the blizzard, so now we are in the midst of delivering her cookies. (FUNNY: We had a box opened before we even drove away from her wonderful leader’s house! They really are delicious!)

We also went to the cemetery this weekend where I wanted to put out silk red roses for my father for Valentine’s Day and because red is my favorite color. I was only wearing tennis shoes and I had to climb through the snow! I could only imagine Christi laughing at me – especially when I went to pull out dad’s old flowers and I pulled the entire vase out of the holder!! With tears streaming down my face after seeing a bouquet of live (well, frozen actually) white carnations placed on Christi’s grave. I ran and jumped back to where Shayne and Shayla were waiting in the van.

I don’t say thank you as I’m always afraid I’ll accidentally overlook someone; however, this morning I must say TWO VERY SPECIAL THANK YOUS! One to ERIN N. in Seattle as the thank you note Shayla and I sent was returned and I realize I must not have her address. We were also delighted to receive “Science” magazines in the mail so we FINALLY saw the FU-NB-06 articles ourselves and I’m having one laminated Tuesday! Thank you to an amazing and special woman from the west coast!

We also visited with Shayne's Grandma and are happy she's doing much better!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Christi Thomas Memorial Fund & Scholarship Site

Before Shayla's birthday, I shared how some of the Christi Thomas Memorial Fund monies will be utilized. There will be three $1,000 Scholarships awarded each year. Additionally, there is one very large project still in the works and another small project which needs to be pulled together; however, I will go ahead and share the website for the fund. (Note that the CT Memorial Fund website is a .org versus her main website which is a .com.) We are grateful for all of the generous donors who helped establish this fund to leave lasting memorials of our sweetheart, Christi Thomas. Thank You!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Snow Days

The nasty winter storm leaves many still digging out. School was cancelled today for the third day in a row. Shayla isn't concerned that we have to make these days up later. As you can see, she's a winter kind of gal. We were so blessed to have Shayne at home yesterday. Shayne & Shayla played outside for hours yesterday.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!Picture: 2001 Christi (3 1/2) Shayla (just turned 2)

Here's wishing you a very happy Valentine's Day! It was one of Christi's favorite holidays! Shayla is thrilled that we are in the midst of a blizzard and there is no school again today. Due to 13 inches of snow and a level 3 snow emergency, Shayne's also home from work today and we're all happy about that. (I don't know how he would have made it out of the driveway or down our road anyway!)

Today will be spent in a much different way than last year's Valentine's Day was spent. Christi was terribly ill. She really wanted to go to school, but only made it from her bed into ours. I sent Shayla off to school with Christi's teacher and booked our flights to get to Philadelphia that night.

Because I knew Christi really wanted to go and pass out her valentines, and when/if she was feeling better I'd feel guilty if I didn't take her up to school I got her around and pushed her into the building in her big blue jogging stroller. Her class hadn't seen her for a long time and they were so happy and excited to see her. Many were touching her head because it was the first they saw her with her hair falling out. Those loving touches however caused Christi so much pain and filled her eyes with tears until Mrs. Smith was able to explain to the children that they couldn't touch Christi.

The beautiful Grine girls made Christi's valentine box for her and it won in the "pretty, but not too fancy" catagory.

We then drove home and Grandma Nee Nee met us and drove us to the airport where the amazing angel on earth named Tim picked us up on the other end and safely delivered us to CHOP all the while I questioned whether I should have taken Christi to her valentine's party or not. All night last night I just kept thinking how fortunate we are not to be in treatment right now. I don't know how we would ever have been able to get to the hospital with this unbelievable winter weather.

Yesterday I put Shayla's birthday height mark on the closet wall. (Every six months I would record the girls' heights on the wall. They loved checking the wall and putting up their new heights.) She is a wee bit taller than Christi was on her 8th birthday.

Today she is anxious to get out into the snow. Some of the drifts are higher than she is! (I'll be happy watching more Little House re-runs with her again today in the warmth of our home, but.....)
Earlier this week Shayne brought her in at the end of my Heidelberg class so that she would be the "real, live, second grade student" modeling some teaching and learning techniques for the students. She LOVED it and they were so sweet to her!

Feb. 14, 2004: Wishing the School Cafeteria Ladies she loved so much a Happy Valentine's Day. Little she ever know that they would one day all too soon lay flowers down on the ground as her casket rolled by.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Bdays in Review

Shayla's BIRTH day, Feb. 12, 1999
2000: Shayla's One!
2002 Shayla's Three
2003: Shayla's Four! (in an NYC hotel room after Aunt Marty & Aunt Tina drove her out to join us)
2004: Shayla's Five!
2005: Shayla's Six!
2006: Shayla's Seven!
2007: Shayla's Eight!

Monday, February 12, 2007

It's Official - Shayla's EIGHT

Leaving for the hospital at 5:30 AM on Friday, Feb. 12th - Shayla arrives three hours later!

Proud Daddy holds the new princess
Finally getting to hold the sweet little baby I'd fallen in love with nine months earlier. Shayla Marie!

Just like he did when Christi was born, the wonderful Father Joe comes to the hospital and gives Shayla a special blessing.
Grandma Nee Nee cuddles with Shayla Marie (also her middle name).
Grandma Nonee & Paw Paw Joe hold the new loved one - Shayla Marie, 7 lbs. 13 1/2 onches

Sunday, February 11, 2007

When You're Eight, CELEBRATE

I'm not certain as to why many of the blog photos are not showing up. I noticed the problem last Saturday and it continued over the week. I've emailed wonderful Webby so hopefully Eric can help.

Shayla's first meeting with her Aunt Tina and Cousins Ashley & Shelbythe Thomas team: Christi, Shayne, Angela & Baby Shayla (Feb. 1999)
Feb. 12, 1999 Shayla's Great Aunt (and her Godmother) arrives at the hospital to meet the new little bundle of love.

Shayla had a VERY NICE birthday yesterday at Aunt Marty and Uncle Jeff's! We all did! Late last night while the cousins played in the basement Aunt Marty brought out some lovely "Christi videos" that she captured last spring and last summer. It was the first time we heard her sweet little voice since September. I did note tears streaking down Shayne's face, but we really enjoyed watching a happy, playful, and witty little girl enjoying her days! We MUST get our videos copied on to DVDs. We ran into technological problems while trying to do that.

Thank you to all of the sweet well wishers for Shayla's 8th birthday. Today "Grandma" Donna and little Donna will be coming over for lunch. We are all looking forward to that.

Shayla happily models her amazing gifts! (Note the glasses on both Shayla and Nicki) THANKS, ERIN!!Do you think she likes it??!! An incredibe gift from an amazing and generous young woman who knows exactly what it feels like to have your sibling die of cancer.
Aunt Marty bought an darling Pokemon cake and Grandma Nonee arrived home from the Sunshine State for Shayla's party, wow!
with my wonderful sis and Shayla's Aunt Tina
It's the Birthday Girl on Ice!
A fabulous birthday ice skating party! HAPPY Bday SHAYLA!!

Missing this year: Grandma Nee Nee (retired now and staying in Phoenix at Aunt Vaunie's, Ashley - home with the flu and Angel Christi dancing in Heaven. PHOTO: Christi's 8th Bday - May 12, 2005)